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What is the mandatory start age for students in Texas?


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debisdee June 21, 2009


We have a visiting boy from El Paso who will be seven years old in November. He says he has not yet started school. How can this happen and who should the father contact to confirm this? He does not know his ABCs or 123s so we are thinking the story may be true.

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healthy11 June 21, 2009


My understanding is that it's a federal law for kids to start school by age 7. I don't know the boy's situation, but if he doesn't even know his ABC's or 123's, he's going to be behind, even in kindergarten, where most of the other kids are 5 and 6 years old.

I would definitely encourage the father to get his son a tutor for the summer (even a high school student may be able to help the child learn "basics") and call the local school district where he lives (You can use the "Find a School" feature on the green menu bar near the top of this page to enter a town and grade level, then see a map of schools near where he lives.) Usually, kids are required to attend the school nearest their home, but there are some exceptions...at least that's a starting point. To register a child, he will need to have their birth certificate, and current immunization/medical record, and proof of his address.

You might also want to look at the Kindergarten Parents Group at http://community.greatschools.net/groups/11535

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debisdee June 21, 2009


Thanks so much. I am going to encourage the father to make sure he has his school physical and see about getting him some help for this next month. He is extremely shy and holds to his father like some two or three year old do. His mother had told his father that he had started school last year but he says he has never been to school. The father knows that she never enrolled him in preschool. Even thirty years ago, where we live, it was unusual if a child had not had some preschool. Well, we will start with your suggestions. I am wondering if the father called the school closest to his sons home, if they could follow through and make sure this little boy is enrolled for Fall?

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healthy11 June 21, 2009


If the school that's closest to the father's home isn't the right one (based on attendance boundaries) then they should at least be able to tell him which district school his child should be enrolled at. I really hope he finds someone to tutor his child beforehand, though, because it sounds like the boy has had very limited exposure to books, etc. and many kindergarten classes nowadays are like first grade used to be...Does the boy speak English well, or is he Spanish-speaking? If he doesn't even recognize numbers and letters, he will struggle to read and write and do basic math....

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debisdee June 21, 2009


He does speak English. I have not been around him enough to tell if he may have some type of learning disabilities or if he has just not been around a lot of people. My daughter seems to think that he sits at home and watches television and plays games. I know when I mentioned someone that he had met and was with about ten hours on the previous day he kept saying, "who is Ryan?" I would tell him and then he would say again "who is Ryan?" So I am not sure. Regardless, I think maybe a school physical from a good pediatrician may be where we should start and he should be able to give us an idea of where we should go from there. It is hard to believe that a parent would not realize the importance of an education. I just want to make sure he is given every opportunity to get his education. It will take a lot to get him caught up especially since he is so shy. I imagine a trust will first have to develop before he will open up to strangers. I think your idea of possibly using a high school student may work because he may open up quicker to someone he does not see as an adult. I do have lots of preschool games and workbooks that could be used to see if he even knows his colors or shapes. Thanks for all of your help.

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healthy11 June 22, 2009


I agree that having a good, comprehensive physical exam (not just a "school physical") is the first place to start. I would also encourage an comprehensive eye and hearing exam. A child may not know his letters or numbers because he has vision problems and can't distinguish them from one another, or it could be that he hasn't been exposed to them via books or anything else...Of course, most kids have some idea, even from watching TV like "Sesame Street." This child's situation does sound very unusual, and at this point, all I can say is that he's fortunate to have a caring person like yourself in his life.

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debisdee June 22, 2009


Thank you for all of your suggestions. My daughter and his father has our 16 year old niece coming over to play games with him today. We are hoping that if they do some "fun" things together....games, swimming and watching some childrens movies that he may become relaxed enough to open up. Of course, we have no idea of his attention span. It seems I remember that normally it is about a minute per year of age. Is that pretty common? I explained to my niece that it does not have to be "book" work but she can make up games that will at least give us an idea of his level of understanding. She seems really excited about getting to know him and work with him. Thanks again

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healthy11 June 22, 2009


It seems to me that I'd heard something similar about attention spans for preschool kids, but I don't know how to judge what would be "typical" for a 7-yr-old who can't recognize numbers or letters....He can't sit quietly with a book, or even spend time creating something as simple as a "hopscotch" pattern in chalk on the sidewalk if he doesn't know how to read or write numbers...
It's good that you, your daughter, and niece are willing to help this boy. I hope his own father will also take a more active role in his academics, since the boy obviously needs a positive family role model.

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blond89 July 17, 2009


I am a teacher with the Head Start program in El Paso and I believe that children benefit more when they begin school at a younger age and research proves that children that start school (a quality school atmosphere- not a daycare) at three or four years old get better grades when they get older. I have a daughter who is 14 and she began Head Start at age three and she is still on the A/B honor roll and getting Commended on her TAKS tests. She is one of many that can prove the theory I stated above.

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healthy11 July 17, 2009


blond89, I think you might have only read the title of the post before you commented, without reading the details that followed....This situation isn't about a younger child where anyone has a choice, it's about an older boy whose parents didn't seem to know any better. Nobody is doubting he would have been better off if he started school earlier.

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debisdee July 18, 2009


Hi....just an update. We are having a hard time getting any help with our problem. The school system in Iowa will not do testing for this little boy unless he will be attending school in Iowa. They would then test and evaluate his level, any disabilities he might have and set up a plan of action. The problem we have is the mother has custody in El Paso. El Paso school system says they have no record of him and would not if he has not ever attended school. They say he may be attending a private school to check those schools. There are hundreds of private schools which makes this impossible. The mother had told the father that he was attending a private school. The father called that school but he had not attended. It is evident that he has not been in school from his level of understanding and he also says he is not going to go to school. His comments "I don't want to go to school. Bullies are at school. They will hurt me." He is afraid of many things...any and all bugs, clowns, doctors, dentists and anything new. The list is almost endless. We have overcome some of these fears. Over the summer, I have figured out through conversations that he watches many inappropriate movies and an older step brother may be "scaring" him to control him. I do not believe that he is in a healthy atmosphere. ALSO...In my opinion, it is neglect when a child has not started school at his age especially when it is evident that no one has even been trying to introduce the basics to him. Most three year olds have a better understanding. We are helping him with his colors, numbers, shapes and some ABC's. He has made progress but not being teachers we have no idea if he has any learning disabilities or is just behind because he has not been introduced to this information. He, at times, has a very short attention span. We are trying to learn from fun and not force feed him so he will not be turned off. The father was told by a pediatrician he may be slightly autistic but needed to be tested. The doctor suggested the father should contact DHS or Child Protective Services in Texas. The father has called and left messages with the Attorney General's Office since they oversee this department. No one returns calls. The little boy returns to his mother in 10 days. The main problem is we do not know where to turn for the help that this little boy needs. Someone needs to oversee that he gets enrolled in school, has his doctor and dental appointments and is living in a healthy household. He was clean and fed so we know those areas are covered. I was thinking of helping dad write a letter listing his concerns for the child and sending copies to Child Protective Services, the Attorney General, the Police Department and the Public School System where he lives. Hopefully someone will follow through and not allow this little guy to fall through the cracks. Any other suggestions?



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